Photo by Jamie Swank
“In 2031, Emery County, Utah will officially be on the map as a must-see destination. Because of the work initiated in 2020, tourism will have evolved into a key industry by leveraging the county’s convenient geographic position along main routes of Western travel and its unique outdoor recreational opportunities.”
These sentences open the vision statement for Emery County’s destination development plan, which is the result of a collaboration between the Emery County Travel Bureau, Coraggio Group and Utah Office of Tourism, along with committee leaders, business owners, government officials and more.
“The Swell will be synonymous with undiscovered adventure and escape, drawing visitors who seek the solace of open spaces and respite from more popular and crowded Utah experiences,” the vision statement continues. “The county will have evolved from a waypoint of Western travel to a bucket list destination for all those drawn to the outdoors.”
Months of effort go into creating a destination development plan, which will outline steps to improve the county’s tourism opportunities, infrastructure, business offerings and quality of life for residents. These steps will be implemented by elected officials, county employees, volunteers and business owners to work toward a common goal. The plan will be overseen by the Emery County Travel Bureau as well as sub-committees.
“The Emery County of 2031 may look a little different, but it will still feel like the Emery we all love; open, spacious and undiscovered with a renewed sense of place and opportunity for all,” the vision statement reads. “Ten years from now, The Swell is an outdoor destination. Climbers from all corners of the world will chose Emery County, seeking world-class yet uncrowded climbing and bouldering experiences. Hikers, mountain bikers and those just looking for silence among the stars will enjoy ample camping options, highlighted by marked routes and informed by accessible information and guidance about the area and all it has to offer.”
The vision continues, “Those looking for more creature comforts will find modern RV spaces, quaint hotels or have the option to call a local B and B their temporary home. Whether on the east or west side of the county, these new authentic lodging options will respect the culture of Emery while allowing visitors to experience it like a local. With an eye on keeping The Swell the uncrowded experience that it is, recreational management will have made its way into Emery with reservation systems that ensure residents can continue to experience their home the way they intended while ensuring visitors get the experience the brand promises.”
With increased tourism, the goal is for the county to use to economic boost to improve the quality of life for local residents. “As new adventurers and soul seekers discover Emery, new revenues bring wealth into the community,” the statement reads. “This new demand affords new opportunity for Emery County to monetize tourism beyond its rest stops and waypoints. Downtowns and main streets begin to spring back to life with façade updates, new business and new faces.”
The goal is that new customers will influence new restaurants, retail options and pop-up shop, all supported by pro-business zoning regulations, tax incentives, local promotion and economic participation. With the growing revenue, residents would expect to see the benefit of added town resources, such as infrastructure updates, social programs and/or tax relief.
To bring the vision to fruition, plan implementers will focus on monetization, wayfinding, activation of “The Swell” brand, and outdoor recreation infrastructure and stewardship. Other top priorities include Green River activation, small business support and incentive, and increased event offerings. Funding will be a necessity and will likely be procured through grants, county coordination and RAP tax.
The plan includes many lofty goals, which the Corragio Group will break down into steps that are easier to digest and implement. And while the Emery County Travel Bureau Board will serve as the backbone of the plan, support from cities, neighboring counties, various committees and councils, businesses and more will be necessary for success.
Following multiple meetings and feedback from the public, Corragio will now begin to produce the formal plan, which will then be presented to the Emery County Travel Bureau. Those that wish to learn more or get involved in the implementation of the plan by volunteering their services should contact the Emery County Travel Bureau at (435) 381-3560.